[OPE-L:6506] Re: Marx and the bible

From: gerald_a_levy (gerald_a_levy@msn.com)
Date: Sat Feb 02 2002 - 17:24:34 EST

Re Paul B's [6505]:

> thanks for your response... which translation are you using?  

Translation by Saul Padover in his _The Letters of Karl Marx_  
(Engelwood Cliffs, NJ, Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1979).

> However looking at your response here and to other exchanges re Moses etc I think that you are being a little bit oversensitive... <

I won't dismiss that as a possibility:  once one reads these
letters -- written over a long period of his life -- one tends 
to more critically look at other related comments that he made.
Perhaps I am oversensitized to this issue now.

I want to emphasize that while these letters do not show that 
this subject (his attitude towards Jews rather than just Judaism)
affected his theory, it manifestly *did* impact his praxis.  After all, 
it clearly tainted his relationship with Lassalle which was a political 
relationship (in that case, the personal became political).  This may 
have just been just a blip on the radar screen when looking at the 
whole of Marx's life but it was there and shouldn't be denied.

>  As I said, I'm inclined to think that Marx and his father even more, had made a big effort to break with the religious nonsense. <

Of that there can be no doubt, but his materialism should have
if anything allowed him greater perspective on the discrimination
against Jews in Europe.   Undoubtedly, his Jewish family background
complicated his understanding of this subject.

> One can imagine the personal battle, the social pressures etc etc..., as a result he probably had some sharp feelings towards the more conservative section of  the old community. If we are going to dig through his private correspondence, and even then find only a couple of references focused mostly on Lasalle, then draw dramatic conclusions from it... well it seems very much out of proportion given the tasks that face humanity at the moment and Marx's fundamental contribution to that struggle.<

Well ... I don't think this issue has any  bearing on the 'tasks
that face humanity at the moment  and Marx's
fundamental contribution to that struggle'  _other than perhaps_
the recognition once again that Marx was a human being with failings
like the rest of us and that we have to critically examine *ALL* that
went before us -- including Marx himself.  And, I think that the ability
to *critically* examine Marx's perspectives is a component part of
the larger task of comprehending and changing the world.

> I have heard the term ' a bit of a 'jew-boy'' used by individuals in my parents generation  ie born in 1910's and 20's , very rarely, but to mean any  miser or mean person. Of course it is a thoughtless caricature, unfair etc, but as Marx pointed out, since Europe as a whole had barred Jews from almost all trades except that in money -  interest etc being highly restricted up until the 16th century -  there was an inevitable forced association between money grubbing and jewry. They were set up!   My father's first wife was jewish, anglicised etc, no hocus pokus, so  I have a half brother and half sister who are half jewish, yet my father himself used the term 'jew boy' in passing when refering to nasty 'Christian' money grubbers on one or two occasions. ( and this was some years after he had been on british military duty at Belsen)... he was certainly not anti semetic! So....at least from my experience of life,  I am simply not really too interested or worried about Marx's odd private comment here. It has no material significance for us today.<

There is an interesting question here: how racial slurs 
become so ingrained within a culture and language that
those who use those slurs often have no idea that they are
slurs at all!  ... or what the linguistic and historical origin of
those slurs are.   In the US, I would bet that only a small
proportion of those who use common terms  in everday
usage like 'gyped' and 'welshed' have any idea of the origin 
of those terms.  (Many other examples exist).  Confronting 
how racism  (and sexism) has become ingrained in capitalist 
social  formations  *is* a task of some  importance for freeing 
humanity: indeed it is an *essential* task required for working-class 

> No more on this from me you'll be glad to hear!

This doesn't gladden me, but I look forward to talking with
you again about other subjects that you feel are of 

In solidarity, Jerry

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